QUEENS — An abandoned rail line could provide walking paths, bike lanes and even serve as a place for cross-country skiing in the winter, residents said during a workshop organized in Forest Hills by groups advocating for the proposed QueensWay Tuesday night.
But some expressed safety concerns because the old railway, which runs from Rego Park to Ozone Park, in some cases is located within a few yards of their homes.
“There will not be sufficient police protection, there will be homeless people sleeping in that area and parking is already a problem in this community,” said Renee Capell, 62, a social worker who lives on Selfridge Street in Forest Hills, near the proposed park.
“It’s going to [be] a safety disaster. Who is going to patrol that park at 3 o’clock in the morning?”
But a number of the 200 or so people who attended one of the workshops said the project could be a boon for the area.
“Our part of Queens is a bike desert,” said Sarah Nikolic, 44, a grant writer, who lives in Rego Park.
Nikolic added that it takes her about half an hour to walk from her home to the nearest park in the neighborhood. “The idea of enhancing open space in Queens is great,” she said.
She said ideas pitched for the QueensWay in her group included community gardens and a place for cross-country skiing in the winter.
The ideas, organizers said, will be used to come up with a design as part of a feasibility study conducted by groups advocating for the QueensWay.
Elena Lechinsky, 50, an architect from Forest Hills, said the project “would expand our horizons and biking maps.”
Lechinsky, who is an avid bicyclist, said she often bikes in Forest Park, but it’s not big enough for her. “If this project would happen, we could bike all the way from our house through Forest Park to Ozone Park and to the Rockaways.”
But other residents said that people coming to the QueensWay would be able to look directly into their homes from the park.
“People who live there, they pay taxes, they have privacy, they have trees. Why isn’t it a nature preserve, it’s beautiful,” said Ivy Hamlin, a paralegal from Rego Park, who lives close to the rail line, which closed in 1962. “My idea is to leave it alone."
Marc Matsil of the Trust for Public Land, which received a state grant to conduct the feasibility study, said that “concerns are legitimate.”
“The design and architecture team is looking at ways to make it safer than it is now,” he said.
For more information on the project, go here.